How to protect your pet against theft

14 min Read Published: 21 Sep 2021

protect your pet from theft

Lockdown saw a 170% increase in pet theft in the UK according to data from charity DogLost. Despite the increase, DogLost says that only 1% of dog thefts result in a court punishment, with most offenders being issued a fine or community service. Many charities across the UK are campaigning for tougher sentences for those who callously steal our furry family members.

In this article, I will be sharing the steps you can take to prevent your pet from being stolen, what you can do if your pet is lost or stolen and how to ensure you are covered by your pet insurance.

Lockdown saw an increase in pet theft

The rise in pet theft isn't much of a surprise when you consider the part that the pandemic played in the increase in demand for certain sought-after dog breeds. This extra demand helped to push up the cost of many dogs and the table below highlights the increases in certain pedigree dog prices between March and October 2020.

Increase in pedigree dog prices - March 2020 to October 2020

March 2020 October 2020 % increase
Beagle £563 £1,414 151%
Chow Chow £1,119 £2,618 134%
Daschund £973 £1,681 73%
English Bulldog £1,637 £2,436 49%
French Bulldog £1,251 £2,128 70%
Pug £684 £1,220 78%

(Data sourced by Tech4Pets. Research carried out by dog charity Dogs Trust)

"Given that the prices for pups have shot up significantly in recent months, it is no wonder criminals are continuing to cash in on such a lucrative market" Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director Paula Boyden

Why are pets stolen?

Pets can be stolen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Stolen to be sold onto puppy farms and mills for breeding purposes
  • Stolen to be sold on for cash. Highly sought-after breeds can fetch high prices and be sold relatively quickly
  • Stolen to be used as bait or fighting dogs

How to protect your pet against theft

Whilst you cannot guarantee that your pet will not be stolen, there are a variety of preventative measures you can do to protect your pet:

Do

tick Microchip your pet and make sure that the registered details are kept up to date on a microchipping database such as petlog or PETtrac

tick Spay and neuter your pet as this makes them less attractive to thieves as they are unable to be bred from. It also prevents your pet from roaming. It may also be wise to highlight this on the pet's I.D tag.

tick Train your dog to come back to you off the lead

tick Secure your home and garden to deter theft

tick Take up to date photos of your pet that can be shared in the event your pet is lost or stolen

tick Put a collar on your pet with an I.D tag that has your name and contact number

Don't

cross Leave your pet unattended outside a shop or tied to a lamp post

cross Leave your pet unattended in your garden for long periods of time or out of sight

cross Let your dog off the lead if they are not sufficiently trained to come back

 

What to do if your pet is missing or stolen

If your pet is stolen you need to act immediately and follow these steps to increase your chances of being reunited with your pet:

tick Report your pet as missing or stolen to local veterinary practices, charities and the local dog warden

tick If you believe your pet has been stolen then report the crime to the police

tick Report your pet as missing with the database that your pet's microchip is registered to such as petlog or PETtrac

tick Report your pet as missing with websites such as DogLost, Petslocated and the National Pet Register

tick Make posters for your local area, including a picture and description of your pet (also describe any unusual markings) and a way for you to be contacted should your pet be found

tick Share your pet as missing on social media and in local community groups

tick Look for your pet in the local area at different times of day and night and look for places they may hide

 

Animal charity DogLost has created a handy graphic with the steps you can take if your dog is stolen.

what to do if your pet is stolen

What to look out for in your pet insurance

Some pet insurance policies cover your pet if it is lost and stolen but cover is not always included in your policy as standard, so it is important to check your pet insurance policy to ensure you are covered. If your pet insurance does not include loss and theft as standard, you may be able to pay a little more and add it as an optional extra.

It is also worth noting that some policies that offer lost and stolen pet cover also have a limit on the amount that they will pay out for your pet, which means that the original cost of your pet may not be covered in full. For example, some providers will pay a percentage contribution towards the purchase price of your pet and others may pay a percentage based on the age of your pet when it went missing.

What is loss & theft cover?

Some pet insurance policies offer cover for your pet in the event that it is lost or stolen. This means that you can claim for the cost of your pet if your pet is not found or returned within a particular timeframe. The timeframe may be different depending on the provider you are with, for example, it is 45 days with Animal Friends. Some pet insurance providers will also contribute towards the cost of advertising and offer a reward for your lost or stolen pet. Bought by Many will not pay out for advertising or reward costs until your pet has been missing for at least 48 hours but if your pet is not found within 30 days, you can claim for the original cost of your pet.

The amount of loss & theft cover you get with a pet insurance policy will vary by insurer but it is also important to know that the cover varies depending on the type of pet insurance policy you choose. In the next section, we look at the loss & theft cover available on lifetime, maximum benefit and time-limited pet insurance policies. We also provide a guide as to how much loss & theft cover you can expect for each policy type by looking at three of the top pet insurance providers. For more information on lifetime, maximum benefit and time-limited pet insurance policies, check out the following articles.

Lifetime pet insurance policies that cover for loss & theft

The following lifetime pet insurance policies are just some of the lifetime pet insurance providers that offer cover for theft and straying as well as advertising and reward costs as standard within the lifetime pet insurance policy. This should give you an idea of the level of cover you can expect if your pet is stolen or goes missing.

Most lifetime pet insurance providers offer loss and theft cover as standard, however pet insurance provider Agria has this as an optional extra so you'll have to pay more if you want it added to your policy. Always ensure you check your policy documents carefully so that you know exactly what is included in your policy. The below table compares the level of cover between the policies from a selection of pet insurance providers. How much cover you have depends on the lifetime pet insurance policy you choose.

Animal Friends Bought by Many Petplan
Loss & Pet theft cover
Advertising & reward Cover up to a maximum of £1,000 depending on the policy type you choose You can claim for advertising costs and a reward twice the original cost/market value of your pet will be offered (subject to approval from the insurer)
Cover up to a maximum of £2,000 depending on the policy type you choose
Loss & Theft Cover up to a maximum of £1,500 depending on the policy type you choose Cover up to a maximum of £6,000 depending on the policy type you choose
Cover up to a maximum of £2,000 depending on the policy type you choose

For more information on the providers in the table read our independent reviews:

Maximum benefit pet insurance policies that cover for loss & theft

In the below table we compare three maximum benefit pet insurance providers that offer loss and theft cover as standard within their maximum benefit pet insurance policies. The amount of cover you get for your pet varies depending on the age of your pet and the policy you choose with the provider.

Animal Friends The Insurance Emporium Scratch & Patch
Loss & Pet theft cover
Advertising & reward Up to £200 Cover up to a maximum of £850 depending on the policy type you choose
Cover up to a maximum of £1,000 depending on the age of your pet
Loss & Theft Cover up to a maximum of £1,000 depending on the policy type you choose Cover up to a maximum of £1,500 depending on the policy type you choose and the age of your pet
Cover up to a maximum of £1,000 depending on the age of your pet

For more information on the providers in the table read our independent reviews:

Time-limited pet insurance policies that cover for loss & theft

The following time-limited pet insurance policies offer loss and pet theft cover as well as advertising and reward cover as standard within the insurance premiums. The time-limited policy type you choose with the provider and the age of your pet may affect the level of cover you have.

Animal Friends Petplan
The Insurance Emporium
Loss & Pet theft cover
Advertising & reward Up to £200 Up to £1,000
Cover up to a maximum of £850 depending on the policy type you choose
Loss & Theft Cover up to a maximum of £1,000 depending on the policy type you choose Up to £1,000
Cover up to a maximum of £1,500 depending on the policy type you choose and age of your pet

For more information on the providers in the table read our independent reviews: